Things looking up for Griselda

AIKEN — The story of Griselda Negrete, a Silver Bluff High School honors student who discovered last spring that she was an illegal alien, might have a happy ending.

The teen found that she and her late mother were undocumented when she went with an aunt to translate an immigration hearing and was arrested by Homeland Security officials. Since then, people from her school, where she is a rising junior, and community have rallied around her, trying to forestall her deportation back to Mexico. She has no immediate family there, and she has no memory of having lived there — she was only two when her family migrated.

She and two of her classmates, meanwhile, won a state academic competition and qualified for the nationals in Denver. Her father is a groom at a horse stable in Aiken, and the $800 needed for the trip wasn’t available. Through her attorney’s efforts, her case received some publicity, including an article in The Catholic Miscellany.

“A lot of people started sending in donations, and I’m really thankful for them all. I got to go to Colorado and it was lots of fun,” Griselda said.

While Griselda was at the competition in July, things were happening on the home front. Sen. Lindsey Graham sponsored a private bill in the U. S. Senate that essentially bought the girl some time, enough to probably finish high school, according to her lawyer, Glenda Bunce of Catholic Charities. That wasn’t quite good enough for her father, Griselda said.

“My dad wants me to stay here. He wants the best for us,” she said, referring to her three sisters and herself.

Her father and her uncle, her mother’s brother, agreed to a plan that required Griselda to be legally adopted by her uncle, who is a U. S. citizen. The teenager now lives with her uncle and his family. Her name has been changed to Griselda Martinez Negrete.

So, things have settled down for the girl whose plight touched the hearts of so many. She has new friends and benefactors, including a group of Bishop England High School students who have been writing to her. She feels secure in her homeland now, is planning for the future, and hopes to attend college.